By Seaman Apprentice Manvir Gill, USN
Black History Month is celebrated annually as a reflection on the achievements and impact of the African American community on our nation and its history.
While under way in the Atlantic Ocean, USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) Multicultural Heritage Committee (MCHC) held a celebration to reflect upon the immeasurable impact that the African American community has had on the Navy and our nation.
The event kicked off with a performance by the MCHC step team and went into a rendition of the Black National Anthem, performed by Retail Service Specialist 2nd Class Daeon Farrar, from Richmond, Va.
“This month is a reminder to reflect on Black history and how it has affected the Navy as a whole,” said Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Arlen Royal, Ford’s MCHC program manager, from Pittsburgh. “It’s good to step back and look at where we came from, where we’re going, and the huge strides we’ve made over the past year.”
At home, Royal celebrates Black history month with his three kids and teaches them that everyone is important, no matter what color or race they are.
“Our culture is important to us and it’s important to remind future generations of the great things that African-Americans have done for this country and the world,” said Royal.
A few members of MCHC got behind the podium and delivered speeches about the history of African Americans and their contributions to the world.
Master Chief Operations Specialist Sharon Adams, from Beaufort, S.C., assigned to Ford’s training department delivered a speech that highlighted prominent African-American service members such as; Medal of Honor recipient and future Ford-class namesake Doris Miller, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force General Charles Q. Brown Jr., and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
“We honor those who came before us during Black history month and we celebrate how far we’ve come as a society,” Adams said.
In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford signed a proclamation designating February as Black History Month.
“In the Bicentennial year of our Independence, we can review with admiration the impressive contributions of black Americans to our national life and culture,” said Ford. “I urge my fellow citizens to join me in tribute to Black History Month and the message of courage and perseverance it brings to all of us.”
For the past 46 years these celebrations have continued to honor the contributions of African-Americans.
“I celebrate Black history month at home by trying to uplift my black brothers and sisters,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Ryan Britton, from Greensboro, N.C., assigned to Ford’s air department. “This month is a great time to reflect on a lot of the things we are doing as individuals and MCHC did a great job of recognizing us.”
The event concluded with a cake-cutting and fellowship. Ford’s MCHC celebrates the diversity of the Navy and the legacies that honor our past throughout the year.